Prank Call Exposes IOC President and EU Commissioner

Sport 12 April, 2024

In a startling development, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission, were unwittingly ensnared in a prank call orchestrated by Russian hoaxers. The episode, which unfolded during a pre-arranged video call with a fake African leader purportedly representing the African Union, resulted in Bach and Schinas making candid remarks about the politicization of sports and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The hoaxers, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov, known as Vovan and Lexus, managed to extract unprecedented statements from Bach and Schinas during the 27-minute video call. The fake African leader, actually one of the pranksters, engaged the two leaders in a discussion about persuading African athletes to boycott the Friendship Games in Russia.

During the conversation, Bach and Schinas expressed strong opinions against the Friendship Games, citing Russia’s alleged war of aggression against Ukraine and its misuse of sports for political purposes. Schinas condemned the games as an attempt to legitimize Russia’s actions, urging National Olympic Committees not to participate.

The call took an unexpected turn when the fake African leader inquired about Russian members on the IOC Executive Board. Bach clarified that no Russian member was part of the board and emphasized that IOC members, like athletes, were subject to strict rules regarding support for war.

Schinas, pressed about the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in future Olympics, indicated openness but underscored the complex geopolitical context of the conflict.

Both Bach and Schinas showed surprise and concern when asked if their statements could be published, suggesting caution in their responses. The call concluded with an agreement not to disclose the conversation and a bizarre moment where Bach and Schinas agreed to “pray to some invented gods” to influence the outcome of the Friendship Games.